Long wait almost over for local hockey

EXCITEMENT is rampant with the 2021 East Gippsland Hockey Association season hitting off Friday night and Saturday.

The 2020 season was called off after one junior round because of COVID restrictions, with the local hockey community looking forward to being out on the field again.

Sale and Wellington’s women’s and open’s teams will get the season underway with a fixture on Friday night at the Gippsland Regional Sports Complex in Sale, creating an opportunity to see teams in full flight under lights.

The open match will be a rematch of the 2019 grand final, where Sale clinched its fifth consecutive premiership in a tight 2-1 battle.

With only minor changes to its line-up, Sale is keen to get its title defence off to a strong start with the injection of some youth and speed via the addition of Jacob Harrington, who takes the step up from the under 18s into the senior line-up. Leigh Angus will also return to the club after 12 years bolstering Sale’s defensive stock.

The junior teams will face each other Saturday morning with the under 11s getting the day underway at 8.30am. The under 13s will play from 9.15am, under 15s 10.20am and under 18s 11.35am.

The hockey will continue in the afternoon, when Maffra will host Swan Reach in which is anticipated to closely contested matches.

Maffra is the defending premier in all three junior grades and was runner-up in the women’s.

The under 11s will take to the GRSC field from 12.50pm, under 13s 1.35pm, under 15s 2.40pm, under 18s 3.55pm, women’s 5.10pm and open 6.35pm.

Further east, Bairnsdale will host Orbost at the WORLD Centre in Bairnsdale.

After not entering any teams in 2020, Bairnsdale has worked hard over the over the past 12 months and will be fielding teams in all grades except the under 18s. The under 11s will get the day underway at 9am, followed by the under 13s from 9.45am, uner 15s 10.50am, women’s 12.05pm and open 1.30pm.

Nagle will have the bye before launching its season in round two.

It is still not too late to join one of a local club this season.

To join Maffra Hockey Club phone Jane Gallatly on 0418 380 658 or email maffrahockeyrecruitment@gmail.com, to join Sale Hockey Club phone Mark Benfield on 0438 423 432 or email salehockeyclub@hotmail.com, or to join Wellington Hockey Club phone Dom O’Neale on 0473 485 475 or email wellingtonhockeyclubcommittee@gmail.com.